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Full text of "The Strategy is at the Station: The Importance of Connecting Literacy Stations to Reading Strategies in Developing Independent Readers"

THE STRATEGY IS AT THE STATION: THE IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTING 

LITERACY STATIONS TO READING STRATEGIES 

IN DEVELOPING INDEPENDENT READERS 



Angela Grace Williams 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/strategyisatstatOOwill 



The Strategy is at the Station: The Importance of Connecting Literacy Stations to Reading 

Strategies in Developing Independent Readers 

by 

Angela Grace Williams 



A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of 
Requirements of the CSU Honors Program 

for Honors in the degree of 

Bachelor of Science in Education 

in 

Early Childhood Education, 

College of Education, 
Columbus State University 



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The Strategy is at the Station 1 
Running Head: The Strategy is at the Station 



The Strategy is at the Station: The Importance of Connecting Literacy Stations to Reading 

Strategies in Developing Independent Readers 

Angela Grace Williams 

Columbus State University 



The Strategy is at the Station 2 
Table of Contents 



Abstract 3 

Literature Review 4 

Method 18 

Results 21 

Conclusion 40 

Discussion 43 

References 47 



The Strategy is at the Station 3 

Abstract 
Guided reading groups and independent literacy stations are implemented in many elementary 
school classrooms... The present study looks at whether student literacy achievement is 
positively affected when guided reading strategies are connected to and used in independent 
literacy stations. Participants in this study included four first grade classrooms from an 
elementary school in the southeastern United States. Observational data were collected for eight 
weeks during the time in which guided reading and literacy stations were implemented. Literacy 
achievement was measured with the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). Results of a 
paired-samples t-test showed that one classroom had a statistically significant increase in student 
DRA level and comprehension. In this study, the researcher examines ways in which that class 
differed from the others in their use of strategies and stations. 



The Strategy is at the Station 4 

The Strategy is at the Station: The Importance of Connecting Literacy Stations to Reading 
Strategies in Developing Independent Readers 

Undergraduates in the field of early childhood education spend a great deal of time in the 
elementary school classroom. Although these classrooms are different in numerous ways, one 
commonality can be found among many of them - the implementation of guided reading groups 
and independent literacy stations. Currently, these instructional components are implemented in 
many elementary schools and at many grade levels and are certainly one of the major literacy 
components that can benefit children in every classroom. However, literacy stations and guided 
reading groups are not always set up or earned out in the same way. One varying aspect is the 
connection that exists between the different literacy stations and guided reading groups. Some 
stations may be directly related to skills learned in guided reading while others may be more 
disconnected. Another aspect that may vary from classroom to classroom is the extent to which 
students use the skills that they leam in guided reading and apply them to the independent 
literacy stations. The purpose of this thesis is to determine whether student literacy achievement 
is more positively affected when the strategies worked on in guided reading are connected to and 
used in independent literacy stations. The discovery of this information will help classroom 
teachers be more effective in implementing guided reading and literacy stations in their own 
classrooms. 

Approximately one in five children experience significant difficulties in learning to read, 
and research has concluded that children who get off to a poor start in reading rarely catch up 
(Iaquinta, 2006). In fact, ". . . a child who is a poor reader in the first grade is 88% more likely to 
remain a poor reader in the fourth grade; therefore, the early years are the focus for the 
prevention of reading difficulties 1 ' (Iaquinta, 2006, p. 413). Through the No Child Left Behind 
Act (NCLB) of 2001, President George W. Bush expressed his commitment to ensuring that 



The Strategy is at the Station 5 

every child could read by the end of third grade. To accomplish this goal, a strong emphasis is 
placed on scientifically based reading instruction in the early grades {The No Child Left Behind 
Act of '2001,2002). 

Guided reading is a scientifically based approach to reading instruction and is one major 
component of a balanced literacy program. According to Guastello and Lenz (2005), there are 
three basic principles of a balanced literacy program. The first principle states that the classroom 
teacher should develop students 1 skill knowledge (decoding skills, comprehension skills, and so 
forth) and affective knowledge (a love of reading). The second principle states that the classroom 
teacher needs to know when to incorporate new elements into the program based on the needs of 
the students. Finally, the third principle states that a plethora of reading and viewing materials 
should be available to students to help them develop writing, listening, and presentation skills. 
Iaquinta (2006), in her article Guided Reading: A Research-Based Response to the Challenge of 
Early Reading Instruction, states: 

Guided reading practices as part of a balanced literacy program conform to the 
recommendations on literacy as suggested in position statements by the International 
Reading Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and 
the National Council of Teachers of English, (p. 418) 
Additional components of a balanced literacy program include read alouds, which enable 
students to encounter and contemplate material they cannot yet read on their own; shared 
reading, which allows students to interact with the teacher and text to learn critical concepts and 
get the feel of reading; and literature circles, which allow students to think deeply about text and 
work together to construct meaning. However, it is through guided reading that students actually 
learn how to read and are supported as they do so (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). 



The Strategy is at the Station 6 

Fountas and Pinnell (1996) describe guided reading as, "... a context in which a teacher 
supports each reader's development of effective strategies for processing novel texts at 
increasingly challenging levels of difficulty" (p. 2). Guided reading is a research-based 
instructional approach that involves a teacher working with a small group of about four to five 
students who are similar in reading behaviors and the text level that they are able to read with 
support. Guastello and Lenz (2005), in their article Student Accountability: Guided Reading 
Kidstations, state: 

It provides students with opportunities to (a) develop as individual readers while 
supported by their teachers and peers; (b) develop literacy strategies so they can read 
increasingly difficult text; (c) develop abilities to be independent readers; (d) enjoy 
successful experiences reading for meaning; and (e) develop the before-, during-, and 
after-reading behaviors that facilitate comprehension, (p. 144) 
Guided reading provides teachers with the opportunity to listen to each individual student read 
aloud. This is essential in order to keep up with each child's current reading level and to 
determine how one can effectively help each child progress. 

Guided reading has several purposes. One purpose is to meet the diverse needs of all 
students in the classroom, enabling them to grow and develop from whatever level they are at 
currently. (The teacher does this by scaffolding students in order to help them progress.) Another 
purpose is to enable students to read increasingly difficult text with understanding and fluency. 
After all, comprehension is the essence of reading. Still another purpose of guided reading is to 
help students develop problem solving strategies for determining unfamiliar words, complex 
sentence structure, or any other ideas not previously encountered (Iaquinta, 2006). While all of 
these purposes have great importance, perhaps the primary thing to remember is this: "The 



The Strategy is at the Station 7 

purpose of guided reading is to enable children to use and develop strategies, while the ultimate 
goal of guided reading is to help children leam how to use independent reading strategies 
successfully" (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 2). 

A primary benefit of guided reading is that it enables teachers to observe reading 
behaviors in individual children. Guided reading also presents students with a challenge that is 
"just right" for them. Particularly in the early grades, it is virtually impossible for a teacher to 
select a text that is "just right" for an entire class of twenty or more students. A text may be too 
challenging for some or too easy and boring for others. Breaking students into guided reading 
groups based on similar developmental levels, makes the process much easier (Iaquinta, 2006). 
Another great benefit of guided reading is that it not only allows students to be supported by 
their teacher, but it also allows them to be supported by the other students in their guided reading 
group. 

There are a few steps that should be taken to ensure a successful guided reading program. 
The first step is to determine the independent reading level of each student. The second step is to 
level the books in the classroom library. The third step is to arrange students in flexible groups of 
about four students per group by ability or skill development. Finally, the fourth step is to select 
a book for each group to read independently with 90-95% accuracy (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). 
Teachers should ask themselves the following questions regarding the books their students read: 
"Is the text consistently so easy that children have no opportunity to build their problem-solving 
strategies?' and 'Is the text so difficult to process that children have no real opportunity to 
read?'" (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 5). The text used during guided reading sessions should be 
one that students can read with the strategies they currently possess, but that provides an 
opportunity for a small amount of new learning (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). 



The Strategy is at the Station 8 

Guided reading involves small groups of students who are at similar stages of reading 
development and who process text at about the same level. 'The smaller groups provide a greater 
opportunity for teachers to use instruction that scaffolds the learning and engages the learner" 
(Ford & Opitz, 2002, p. 710). Each guided reading group has different strengths and needs, and 
the teaching that takes place during guided reading is usually focused on what each particular 
group of students needs to learn in order to move forward. Given the different rates at which 
students learn and progress, it is important to remember that guided reading groups are 
temporary. Guided reading groups should be dynamic and flexible to accommodate the different 
learning paths of readers (Iaquinta, 2006). Ongoing observation and assessment of students is 
necessary to track their progression and insure that each student is in the guided reading group in 
which he or she belongs. Another important aspect related to grouping is the rotation set-up of 
the guided reading groups which must be addressed and determined by the teacher. Task- 
management boards can be used to help facilitate this (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). Task- 
management boards are typically large diagrams that include the names of the children in each 
group and the names and pictures of the various stations set up in the classroom. Task- 
management boards should provide flexible ways of rotating tasks and children's names, thus 
providing variety and assurance that all children experience a range of literacy activities (Fountas 
&Pinnell, 1996). 

The role of the teacher is extremely important in the implementation of guided reading. 
According to Fountas and Pinnell (1996), guided reading, as a component of a balanced literacy 
program, begins with good first teaching. During guided reading sessions, the teacher must 
monitor and scaffold students by appropriately prompting and guiding them when necessary in 
order to help them develop as independent readers. It is up to the teacher to decide and determine 



The Strategy is at the Station 9 

"... where to go next, when to intervene and when not to, when to draw children's attention to 
which features of text, and how to model and explain strategies in ways that children can make 
their own" (Iaquinta, 2006, p. 417). Teachers must teach students to use multiple strategies and 
resources in a skilled way as they read. The idea is to help students develop a collection of 
strategies for word identification, comprehension, and so forth that they can later use when 
reading independently (Iaquinta, 2006). 

The guided reading lesson may vary from classroom to classroom. The most important 
thing, however, is that it is designed to meet the needs of the students. Generally, the guided 
reading lesson contains certain elements such as "... introducing the text, reading the text, 
discussing and revisiting the text, teaching for processing strategies, extending the meaning of 
the text, and word work" (Iaquinta, 2006, p. 417). During the introduction of the text, the teacher 
typically provides a brief overview, elicits students' prior knowledge, and establishes a purpose 
for the lesson. For the next step, some teachers have students skim through the text to identify 
unknown words. The teacher then explains the unfamiliar vocabulary to students through context 
and picture clues. On the other hand, some teachers wait until the end of the guided reading 
session to work with and discuss vocabulary. During the portion in which the text is read, each 
individual student takes a turn reading aloud as the other students follow along silently. "The 
teacher assists children's reading in ways that help to develop independent reading strategies" 
(Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 2). According to Guastello and Lenz (2005), "Teachers observe and 
assess the students reading behaviors to determine whether students are using appropriate 
strategies to identify words, acquire meaning, and engage in problem solving" (p. 144). The 
teacher may also make notes of the student's strengths and weaknesses as he or she reads. This 
information helps the teacher know where the student is at and where he or she needs to go next. 



The Strategy is at the Station 10 

Sometimes a student may read the same passage more than once in order to build fluency and 
practice new vocabulary. During the discussion phase of the lesson, the teacher may ask 
individual students questions about what was read in order to build and develop comprehension. 
Also, the teacher may select one or two teaching points to present to the group following the 
reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). 

Experiences during guided reading help students draw upon graphophonic, syntactic, and 
semantic cues (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). Graphophonic, or visual cues, refer to knowledge of the 
relationship between oral language and graphic symbols. Syntactic, or structural cues, refer to the 
notion that the English language follows set rules and guidelines. Finally, semantic, or meaning 
cues, refer to the notion that reading has to make sense (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). 

The question that may now arise in some teachers' minds is, "While I am conducting 
guided reading groups, what do I do with the rest of the class?" The answer to this question lies 
in independent literacy stations. Ford and Opitz (2002) describe independent literacy stations as 
"... small areas within the classroom where students work alone or together to explore literacy 
activities independently while the teacher provides small group guided reading instruction" 
(p. 711). Literacy stations enable students to be independently engaged in meaningful learning 
experiences while the teacher is working with a guided reading group. Guastello and Lenz 
(2005) describe it in the following way. "The guided reading/literacy station approach provides 
the time for the teacher to work intensively, without interruption, while the remainder of the 
class works on worthwhile reinforcement activities" (p. 153). Various literacy stations should 
incorporate elements of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and student accountability in order 
to provide meaningful reinforcement of the International Reading Association (IRA) and 
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standards for the English Language Arts 



The Strategy is at the Station 1 1 

(Guastello & Lenz, 2005). Some elements of literacy on which stations may focus include word 
recognition, vocabulary development, comprehension, response to literature, and fluency 
(Guastello & Lenz, 2005). 

It is essential that the independent literacy stations be just as effective and meaningful as 
the guided reading groups themselves (Ford & Opitz, 2002). After all, students end up spending 
much more time per week at independent literacy stations than they do at guided reading. Ford 
and Opitz (2002) state the following. "Clearly, the power of instruction that takes place away 
from the teacher must rival the power of instruction that takes place with the teacher" (p. 710). 
The researchers go on to state that literacy stations should ". . . provide a level of instruction away 
from the teacher that is as powerful as the instruction with the teacher" (Ford & Opitz, 2002, 
p. 7 1 1 ). Therefore, each station should provide authentic literacy experiences for the learner 
(Guastello & Lenz, 2005). "It will not be productive for children to be doing busy work like fill- 
in-the-blank worksheets. Research does not support such activities and too much learning time is 
lost when the management plan relies on them" (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 2). 

One great aspect of literacy stations is that they promote autonomy, by allowing students 
to work independently. When engaging in independent literacy stations, students must 
understand directions (an example of the desired product may be provided to further 
understanding), know where and how to obtain materials, know what to do with each assignment 
when finished, and have some sense of success with the activity. Therefore, the teacher must 
devote time to establishing these procedures. Teachers may wonder if students can work 
collaboratively as a group at "independent" literacy stations. The answer to this question is yes. 
However, it is suggested that the teacher only allows one group at a time to work collaboratively 
in order to make management easier and that group work is allowed only after students have 



The Strategy is at the Station 12 

demonstrated that they can be responsible and complete work independently (Guastello & Lenz, 
2005). One thing to remember is that just because these are referred to as "independent" literacy 
stations, does not mean that the students who engage in them never receive any teacher feedback 
or support. Often, teachers will give their guided reading groups a brief activity after their 
session is complete and spend the remainder of the time moving amongst literacy stations to 
monitor students and answer questions (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). 

An important aspect of literacy stations is that an element of accountability must be 
included. One idea presented by Guastello and Lenz (2005) suggests that at the end of each day 
or week (depending on the rotation set-up) the students have the opportunity to demonstrate what 
they have learned. The teacher may either select one student from each group or all the students 
from one group to demonstrate to the class what they have created or completed in stations that 
day or week. The teacher may tell the students which activities he or she would like them to 
present (this prevents students from always selecting the "easiest 11 activity every time), or 
students may choose which activity to present for themselves. Engaging students in this manner 
is also a great way to incorporate the language arts standards of listening, speaking, and viewing. 

Activities within literacy stations should be based upon the needs of the students which 
are revealed through guided reading sessions. "As the teacher interacts with the students in the 
group, the teacher notes the types of skills and strategies each student needs to develop. Thus, the 
activities for stations are created" (Guastello & Lenz, 2005, p. 152). A challenge that teachers 
face is to create independent stations that reinforce the skills taught in the guided reading lesson 
and to manage the grouping of students at each station (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). Stations should 
be flexible in that they can change over time to reflect the strategies being taught in guided 
reading. For example, words and concepts that students had difficulty with in guided reading 



The Strategy is at the Station 1 3 

could be incorporated into stations dealing with word recognition, vocabulary development, or 
comprehension. "Implementing stations to reinforce skills taught during guided reading sessions 
offers students the opportunity to apply word recognition, vocabulary development, and 
comprehension skills as well as to respond to literature in a creative context" (Guastello & Lenz, 
2005, p. 153). 

For effective time and classroom management during the period in which guided reading 
and literacy stations occur, ground rules and a framework must be established (Guastello & 
Lenz, 2005). Students must know exactly what is expected of them. The implementation of 
guided reading and literacy stations should "... provide a predictable daily schedule and routine 
that guides both the teacher and the students, empowering them with expectations, procedures, 
and standards" (Guastello & Lenz, 2005, p. 153). 

Several factors must be taken into consideration to ensure the successful implementation 
of literacy stations. Teachers must consider the independence level of the students, the types of 
activities in which students will be engaged, the state or district curricular expectations and 
standards, what is known about engagement in instructional settings, and how to establish a 
framework of instruction away from the teacher (Ford & Opitz, 2002). When it comes to the 
independence level of students, teachers may want to ask themselves, "How well can the 
students function independently?" and "What do they need to learn to function better as 
independent learners?" (Ford & Opitz, 2002, p. 712). It may be simple things that students need 
to learn such as how to use a tape recorder and care for materials or more complex things such as 
how to work with others in a group. Class discussions and role playing could be incorporated to 
help facilitate these aspects of independence (Ford & Opitz, 2002). When considering the types 
of independent activities in which students will be engaged, one should look at how students 



The Strategy is at the Station 14 

perform in guided reading and create various learning centers based on their needs. For example, 
some students may need to develop fluency, while others may need to further their 
comprehension. An additional aspect to remember when considering types of station activities is 
that all activities should require students to interact with print in some way (Ford & Opitz, 2002). 
Since standards-based classrooms are on the rise, it is even more important than ever to consider 
curricular expectations and standards when creating literacy stations. One may consider aligning 
the activities at each station with various state standards and even posting those standards within 
each station. 

Considering what is known about engagement in instructional settings when 
implementing literacy stations entails many factors. One important aspect is that teachers provide 
developmentally appropriate activities that offer a challenge but are within the reach of the 
learner. Students should perceive the possibility of success and perceive that the outcome of their 
work will be valued; that it is not simply "busy work" which is precisely why activities within 
independent literacy stations should be authentic and meaningful (Ford & Opitz, 2002). Since 
classrooms are so diverse, one may wonder how to implement stations in which every student 
perceives the possibility of success. The solution is to provide a variety of literacy experiences 
and activities which are built around multiple goals and outcomes. "Giving students a variety of 
activities is essential when one considers the diversity that exists within any one classroom" 
(Ford & Opitz, 2002, p. 713). Additionally, Ford and Opitz (2002) state, "Planning centers that 
operate with instructional density around multiple goals and outcomes is one way to guarantee 
this success" (p. 713). One example of differentiated instruction provided by Ford and Opitz 
(2002) involves a word family activity with the word bug. Each group of students worked with 
the same word but in a needs-based and developmentally appropriate way. For example, one 



The Strategy is at the Station 15 

group of students made various words containing the phonogram -ug by using initial consonant 
substitution. Another group started with the root word bug and created a structurally based word 
family by adding on various endings to the root word, creating, for example, the words bugged, 
buggy, and so forth. Still another group created a semantic map with the word bug at its center 
and mapped out meaning-based connections to the word. 

Finally, one must determine how to establish a framework of instruction away from the 
teacher. This framework of instruction should facilitate independent use by students. Ford & 
Opitz (2002) state the following. "Any activity that has the potential to interrupt small group 
instruction because of the complexity of sustaining its operation may be more of a deterrent than 
a learning tool" (p. 713). This framework of instruction should also operate with minimal 
transition time and management concerns and encourage equitable use of activities among 
learners (meaning all students should have equalized success). Additionally, the framework 
should include a built-in accountability system. "Simple accountability measures will motivate 
some students to stay productively engaged while serving as a window on the level of 
engagement for each student" (Ford & Opitz, 2002, p. 713). One simple accountability system 
suggested by Ford and Opitz (2002) are center cards. Each student is provided with a card that 
has each center listed as well as a small picture to go with it. Students simply color in or mark off 
each station or center as they complete it. A framework of instruction away from the teacher 
should also allow for efficient use of teacher preparation time. Teachers must remember that 
stations do not have to be very elaborate. Busy teachers need to develop stations that can be 
easily established and altered when necessary (Ford & Opitz, 2002). Finally, the framework of 
instruction should be built around classroom routines, as they provide a sense of predictability 



The Strategy is at the Station 16 

for both the teacher and students as well as minimized confusion and chaos (Ford & Opitz, 
2002). 

Ford and Opitz (2002) suggest nine stations that meet the previously mentioned criteria: a 
listening station. Readers Theatre, reading/writing the room, a pocket chart station, poems/story 
packs, big books, responding to literature through art, a writing station, and a reading station. 
Both the listening station and Readers Theatre could be used as a warm-up, review, or extension 
from guided reading instruction (Ford & Opitz, 2002). For Readers Theatre, certain parts could 
be assigned to students of differing abilities. The performance element of Readers Theatre serves 
as the student accountability component. Reading/writing the room involves providing students 
with pointers and clipboards and allowing them to read and write words they see around the 
classroom. It could even be done in a scavenger hunt format. One example could include the 
teacher telling the students to find words that start with sh or words that are contractions. A 
pocket chart could be used for sequencing a poem or short story line by line or even word by 
word. Students could also be further challenged to create their own poems by changing the order 
of the words. Poems/story packs involve words, phrases, or sentences from familiar stories that 
have been stored in large envelopes. Students could engage in reconstructing the poem or story 
or involve themselves with word sorting activities. The big books station should only include 
those big books that students have previously encountered in shared reading experiences. 
Students may enjoy using pointers as they read various big books. It is important for a teacher to 
remember that a responding through art station does not have to include lots of planned and 
precut materials. Ford and Opitz (2002) give the example of an art response associated with Shel 
Silverstein's (1974) poem "Spaghetti." The station in this example simply contained construction 
paper and various bags of pasta. Out of these materials, students designed creative projects which 



The Strategy is at the Station 1 7 

included labeled pictures, talking bubbles, and descriptive sentences (Ford & Opitz, 2002). A 
writing station is so important because it allows students to generate their own text. Students 
could participate in creative writing, a reading response, and so forth. Also, students could share 
their writing to serve as the element of accountability. Finally, the reading station is perhaps of 
greatest importance. According to Ford and Opitz (2002), "We cannot emphasize enough that the 
best activity for students to become involved in away from the teacher is reading" (p. 716). 
Independent reading can serve as yet another way to warm-up, review, or extend texts from 
guided reading instruction (Ford & Opitz, 2002). 

Both guided reading and independent literacy stations must be authentic, 
developmentally appropriate, and designed to meet the needs of students. For example, tasks 
should be real and meaningful to the students who engage in them; should be age appropriate, 
but also appropriate for the students' developmental levels, which may or may not differ from 
their age; and should address specific skills and concepts that students need to develop. The 
success of each component relies upon the success of the other, meaning that students must be 
actively engaged in literacy stations in order for the teacher to focus on the students in his or her 
guided reading group, while students must participate in effective guided reading instruction in 
order to successfully and independently work in literacy stations. Guastello and Lenz (2005) 
describe it in the following way, "The success of guided reading as an effective instructional 
practice is contingent upon the implementation of a classroom structure conducive to working 
with the guided reading group while other students are independently and actively engaged in 
meaningful literacy experiences" (p. 145). 

Guided reading and literacy stations can be implemented in a variety of ways. One aspect 
that varies from classroom to classroom is the rotation set-up. Some teachers have students rotate 



The Strategy is at the Station 18 

several times per day. They may allot fifteen to twenty minutes for each group, with several 
guided reading groups in one day (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). Other teachers may have their 
students rotate each day of the week, so that by the end of the week, each group has been to 
every literacy station and one session of guided reading (Guastello & Lenz, 2005). Another 
aspect that varies from classroom to classroom that was previously mentioned is the connection 
that exists between the various literacy stations and guided reading. Preliminary planning should 
be done at the beginning of the school year to determine how one will manage guided reading 
groups and literacy stations and the connection one wants to implement between the two 
(Guastello & Lenz, 2005). The successful implementation of guided reading and independent 
literacy stations is contingent upon careful planning and time. One must allot time to explain 
how stations and the various activities within them will work. It will take time for the process to 
run smoothly and for students to get accustomed to the routines. 

Method 

The faculty and staff at an elementary school in the southeastern United States 
participated in preliminary planning by collaboratively creating a list of authentic reading station 
ideas that address various standards. These stations include a listening center, computer station, 
fluency station, recording station, magazine station, weekly reader station or newspaper 
discussion group, author study, partner reading, big book center, response to a book for the 
million word campaign, sight word and spelling word games, Internet (Starfall.com), and Leap 
Pad™ games. While these are suggested ideas, ultimately, it is up to the teacher to decide which 
literacy stations he or she would like to implement in his or her classroom. 

In order to determine whether student literacy achievement is more positively affected 
when the strategies worked on in guided reading are connected to and used in independent 



The Strategy is at the Station 19 

literacy stations, the researcher observed four first grade classrooms at the selected school for 
approximately fifteen to twenty minutes a day, once a week, during the time in which guided 
reading and literacy stations were implemented. The eight-week observation period began the 
week of October 15, 2007 and ended the week of December 17, 2007. No observations were 
conducted during the week of November 19, 2007 due to Thanksgiving break or the week of 
December 3, 2007 due to testing. 

An observation form was created and used with each observation. The observation form 
included spaces for the date and a code for each teacher (A, B, C, or D) in order to ensure 
anonymity. Space for listing the current strategy or strategies being worked on in guided reading 
was included as well. The preceding information was obtained ahead of time by asking each 
teacher which strategy or strategies she was working on with each group during a specified 
week. Often, a teacher does not work on the same strategy with every group for the entire week 
but tailors it to the needs of the students in each group. One group of students was randomly 
selected as the focus group from each classroom, each day observations occurred. Within each 
classroom, a different group of students was selected for observation each time, and within each 
day, a different station was selected for observation for each class. This method provided a 
variety of valuable data. Students were observed as they engaged in the independent literacy 
station to which they had been assigned. The observation form was used first to indicate the 
literacy component that was the group's focus: phonics, vocabulary, fluency, or comprehension. 
The station at which the group was working was indicated by circling one of the choices listed 
on the observation form. The strategy on which the group did or would work on that week in 
guided reading also was indicated on the form. Careful observation of the group of students was 
conducted, and any indications that they were applying the strategy or strategies learned in 



The Strategy is at the Station 20 

guided reading to the station at which they had been placed were recorded. Different instances in 
which the target strategy or strategies were being used were recorded using tally marks. Notes 
were used to indicate how the target strategy or strategies were being used as well. 

Literacy achievement was evaluated by results of the Developmental Reading 
Assessment (DRA). The Developmental Reading Assessment, which is designed to be carried 
out during one-on-one conferences, is a set of test materials designed by a Reading Recovery 
teacher that help teachers pinpoint student abilities and needs at kindergarten through third grade 
reading levels (McCormick, 2007). "The DRA includes stories for reading, observation guides, 
pads for recording oral reading behaviors, and other tools to encourage frequent monitoring of 
reading levels, strengths, and weaknesses for planning instruction" (McCormick, 2007, p. 111). 
Teachers at the selected school administer the DRA at the end of each nine-week grading period. 
The eight-week period of data collection took place during the 2" nine-week period. Students 1 
DRA scores from the end of the T st nine weeks were compared to those obtained at the end of the 
2 n nine-week grading period. Scores were compared between groups. The researcher attempted 
to determine if the level of student growth correlated with the frequency in which students 
applied the strategies learned in guided reading to independent literacy stations. The information 
from this study will be useful to classroom teachers by allowing them to see the effect that the 
connection between guided reading and literacy stations can have on student growth and 
performance. Additionally, the information from this study will be beneficial to the school where 
the research was conducted by providing them with valuable data on the effectiveness of their 
guided reading groups and independent literacy stations. Finally, too many students struggle with 
learning to read, and reading failure can produce long-term consequences for children's 
developing self confidence and motivation to learn (Armbruster, Lehr, & Osbom, 2003). 



The Strategy is at the Station 21 

Information from this study will benefit students by helping them receive the most effective and 
efficient literacy instruction possible. 

Results 

Throughout the eight week study, a total of 13 different stations were observed across the 
four classes. The stations are as follows: computer/Internet, listening, classroom library, 
independent reading bags, big books, browsing books, author study, partner reading, sight words, 
phonics puzzles, phonics letter tiles, phonics beginning blends, and phonics words families. (See 
Appendix Table Al ). 

In all, a total of five stations were observed in classroom A (computer/Internet, listening, 
classroom library, independent reading bags, and browsing books). Seven stations were observed 
in classroom B (listening, independent reading bags, big books, author study, partner reading, 
phonics puzzles, and phonics letter tiles). Five stations were observed in classroom C 
(computer/Internet, listening, classroom library, phonics beginning blends, and phonics word 
families). Also, five stations were observed in classroom D (listening, classroom library, reading 
bags, big books, and sight words). The listening station was the only station observed in all four 
classrooms. However, the station that was observed the greatest number of times among the four 
classes was independent reading in bags, which the researcher observed a total of seven times 
over the eight week study. 

Fountas and Pinnell (1996) describe reading strategies as ". . . operations that allow the 
learner to use, apply, transform, relate, interpret, reproduce, and re-form information for 
communication" (p. 149). As previously stated, at the beginning of each week of observations, 
each teacher reported which strategy or strategies she was working on with each group for that 
week. A total of 1 8 strategies were reported among the four classroom teachers. They were as 



The Strategy is at the Station 22 

follows: use the picture, get your mouth ready, look at the part you know, reread, sound the word 
out, does it sound right, look for chunks, story elements, retelling, sequence of events, 
connections, parts of a book, read-skip-read, does it look right, does it make sense, try that again, 
main idea, and making predictions. 

However, a total of 13 strategies were actually observed as students engaged in literacy 
stations (See Appendix Table Al). Fountas and Pinnell (2006) stated the following regarding the 
observation of strategies, "As teachers it is difficult for us to think about those complex in-the- 
head strategies. We cannot observe them but must hypothesize that they are being used" (p. 149). 
Fountas and Pinnell (2006) go on to state: "We can observe behavior, though, and children's 
reading behavior gives us a 'window on the reading process." We must rely on behavioral 
evidence and that evidence must be collected over time" (p. 149). 

The 13 strategies observed throughout the eight- week study are as follows: use the 
picture (observed 5 1 times among all four classes - more than any other strategy), get your 
mouth ready (observed 40 times among all four classes), look at the part you know (observed 
eight times in one class), reread (observed 19 times among three classes), sound the word out 
(observed 14 times in one class), does it sound right (observed five times between two classes), 
look for chunks (observed nine times between two classes), story elements (observed three times 
in one class), retelling (observed nine times between two classes), read-skip-read (observed four 
times in one class), does it look right (observed two times in one class), does it make sense 
(observed seven times between two classes), and try that again (observed one time in one class). 
It should be noted that the strategies "get your mouth ready" and "sound the word out" appeared 
to be quite similar and it was, at times, difficult to differentiate between the two. However, the 
strategy was marked as "get your mouth ready" if the students were observed using strictly the 



The Strategy is at the Station 23 

beginning sounds to help them decipher a word. On the other hand, the strategy was marked as 
"sound the word out" if students were observed sounding out each portion of the word in order to 
decipher it. 

In classroom A, a total of five strategies were observed (use the picture, get your mouth 
ready, reread, sound the word out, and does it sound right). In classroom B, a total of six 
strategies were observed (use the picture, get your mouth ready, look at the part you know, 
reread, does it sound right, and retelling). In classroom C, a total of six strategies were observed 
(use the picture, get your mouth ready, reread, look for chunks, retelling, and does it make 
sense). In classroom D, a total of eight strategies were observed (use the picture, get your mouth 
ready, look for chunks, story elements, read-skip-read, does it look right, does it make sense, and 
try that again). The only strategies that were observed in all four classes were use the picture and 
get your mouth ready. 

Students were observed implementing various reading strategies as they engaged in the 
different literacy stations. The following data were collected among the four classrooms. One 
strategy (get your mouth ready) was observed at the computer/Internet station. Three strategies 
(get your mouth ready, story elements, and retelling) were observed at the listening station. 
Seven strategies (use the picture, get your mouth ready, reread, sound the word out, look for 
chunks, read-skip-read, and does it make sense) were observed at the classroom library station. 
Eight strategies (use the picture, get your mouth ready, look at the part you know, reread, sound 
the word out, does it sound right, look for chunks, and read-skip-read) were observed while 
students engaged in independent reading in bags. Seven strategies (use the picture, get your 
mouth ready, look at the part you know, reread, look for chunks, does it make sense, and try that 
again) were observed at the big books station. Four strategies (use the picture, get your mouth 



The Strategy is at the Station 24 

ready, reread, and sound the word out) were observed at the browsing books station. Two 
strategies (get your mouth ready and does it sound right) were observed while students engaged 
in an author study. Two strategies (look at the part you know and reread) were observed during 
partner reading. Two strategies (get your mouth ready and does it look right) were observed at 
the sight words station. One strategy (get your mouth ready) was observed at the phonics puzzles 
station. One strategy (sound the word out) was observed at the phonics letter tiles station. One 
strategy (look for chunks) was observed at the phonics beginning blends station. One strategy 
(look for chunks) was also observed at the phonics word families station. The station in which 
students implemented the greatest number of strategies was independent reading in bags, 
followed by the classroom library and big books stations. 

It is important to categorize the stations as primarily promoting comprehension strategies 
or primarily promoting word related strategies. It is important to consider fluency strategies, as 
well. One fluency strategy (rereading) was observed and implemented in classroom library, 
independent reading in bags, big books, browsing books, and partner reading. Word related 
strategies only were implemented at the following stations: computer/Internet, author study, sight 
words, phonics puzzles, phonics letter tiles, phonics beginning blends, and phonics word 
families. Comprehension strategies were primarily used at the listening station only, while word 
related strategies were primarily used at the classroom library, independent reading in bags, and 
big books stations. The browsing books station and partner reading had an equal number of 
comprehension and word related strategies implemented. Consideration must be given to the fact 
that more word related strategies were taught in general as opposed to comprehension strategies. 
Perhaps, this is the reason word related strategies were implemented in many more stations than 
were comprehension strategies. 



The Strategy is at the Station 25 



Based on the data collected from this study, the stations in which students implemented 
reading strategies the least were partner reading (strategies implemented three times), sight 
words (strategies implemented four times), phonics puzzles (strategies implemented five times), 
author study (strategies implemented six times), and computer/Internet (strategies implemented 
eight times). 

During partner reading, observed one time in classroom B, students read books from their 
independent reading bags to one another in an alternating format. Students were observed 
spending a great deal of time talking about things unrelated to what they were reading. 
Therefore, it was difficult to see actual reading strategies being implemented. Also, many times 
when a student did not know a word, his or her partner would immediately shout it out without 
the child having a chance to figure the word out on his or her own by using strategies. Moreover, 
if one student misread a word, his or her partner immediately would correct him or her. 
Immediate correction prevented students from effectively using most strategies. Two strategies, 
however, were observed at this station: look at the part you know and reread, which were 
observed two times and one time, respectively. When using look at the part you know, one 
student recognized the word music within the word musician. The same student also recognized 
the word photograph within the word photographer. Rereading was observed as a student first 
read "Some birds build nests." She then reread the sentence as "Some birds build their nests." 

At the sight word station, observed one time in classroom D, students read several sight 
words printed on small cards and stored in a basket. Students spread the sight word cards out on 
the carpet. Then, each student picked up one word at a time, read it, and placed it back in the 
basket. The six students at this station played frequently so it was difficult to observe strategies 



The Strategy is at the Station 26 

being used. In several instances, students were observed reading the sight word cards incorrectly 
as either other actual words or nonsense words. However, since the words were not placed in any 
sort of context, the students never noticed that they were reading them incorrectly. Also, if a 
student simply did not know a word, he or she often would skip it and go on to another. The 
previously described behavior made it difficult to observe strategies. The two strategies that 
students were using, get your mouth ready and does it look right, each were observed a total of 
two times. Get your mouth ready was observed as the students used the beginning sounds in the 
words paper and come in order to figure out the actual words. Does it look right, which refers to 
looking at the beginning and ending sounds and asking yourself if it looks like the word you 
think it is, was used in one instance when a student said to himself, "I see an a and an s" to help 
him figure out the word animals. 

At the phonics puzzles station, observed one time in classroom B, the students engaged in 
two separate activities. For one activity, students put together various three-piece puzzles in 
which each piece contained one letter and a third of a picture. When the three correct pieces were 
put together, it formed a word and a picture representing the word (for example, jet). For the 
other activity, students had to put together various two-piece puzzles in which one piece had a 
picture of an object along with the corresponding word. The other piece had the beginning 
consonant blend that matched the object (for example, tr- for tree). The students had to match the 
blend to the picture/word. There were 26 of these in all. When the students were putting together 
various three-piece puzzles they were observed paying more attention to the picture part of the 
puzzle than the word printed below. Also, the students did not have to read the words back to 
anyone so it was unclear if they even knew them (or noticed them) at all. For example, one 
student put together a puzzle that, when completed, showed a picture of a mug with the word 



The Strategy is at the Station 27 

mug printed below it. After putting the puzzle together, the student said "coffee cup.'" From that 
statement, it was evident that the student was focusing only on the picture and not the word. 
Sometimes, students at this station did not even lay out and connect the three pieces that went 
together but rather just collected the three parts they could tell went together, put them in a pile, 
and moved them to the side. Due to this behavior, no strategies were observed during this portion 
of the station. However, during the portion in which students were putting together various two- 
piece puzzles, they were observed using the strategy of getting your mouth ready, which they 
used five times. For example, one student was observed holding a piece that had a picture of a 
tree on it with the word tree printed below the picture. The student read the word and said '7fr/' 
to herself. She then looked for the consonant blend tr- and connected the two pieces. (It should 
be noted, however, that with this activity, it was unclear if the students were truly using the 
strategy or simply matching up the letters tr and tr.) 

An author study, observed one time in classroom B, was based on the children's author 
Frank Asch. The classroom teacher first read a book by the author to which the students were 
asked to construct a response that was to include the title of the book, characters, and setting. 
Additionally, students had to write about and draw a picture of their favorite part of the story. 
Because the teacher read to the students and they did not have to actually read for themselves, it 
was difficult to observe strategies being used. Moreover, students constructed part of the book 
response together as a class (stating the main characters and setting) instead of individually. 
However, the strategies get your mouth ready and does it sound right were observed three times 
each. These strategies were not observed while students were reading, but while they were 
writing. For example, one student got her mouth ready with beginning sounds when trying to 



The Strategy is at the Station 28 

spell and write the word find. Does it sound right was used as students checked to see if the 
letters they wrote down spelled the words they intended to spell. 

At the computer/Internet station, observed a total of three times between classrooms A 
and C, students typically were engaged in a reading software program or Starfall.com. While on 
the reading software program, the students sat at the computer with headphones on as the 
computer read to them. The words to the stories were displayed on the screen and each word was 
automatically highlighted as it was read. (The students are encouraged to try to read the story 
first before clicking for the story to be read to them.) On Starfall.com, the students typically 
engaged in some sort of phonics activity. On another occasion, students were on the website of 
the subject of their current author study, Frank Asch. On this website, the students listened to and 
watched animated versions of Asch's stories. The computer/Internet station did not seem to 
relate to the strategies the classroom teachers were targeting, with the exception of get your 
mouth ready. While the computer/Internet station certainly had positive elements such as 
allowing students to hear fluent reading, it simply did not provide students with the opportunity 
to use their strategies because they were not having to actually read for themselves. In only one 
instance was a student observed trying to read a story first before clicking for the computer to 
read it to him. After a couple of minutes, however, this behavior ceased and the student went on 
to immediately click the icon for the computer to read to him. The one strategy that was observed 
at the computer/Internet station, get your mouth ready (observed a total of eight times), was used 
while the students were on Starfall.com. First, the students clicked on a letter. (They picked from 
any of the 26 letters.) Then, the screen displayed a word that began with the selected letter (the 
selected letter was in bold print). The students read the word first using the strategy of getting 
their mouths ready with beginning sounds and then clicked on the letter and word to check 



The Strategy is at the Station 29 

themselves. The website provided several words for the students to do this with, all beginning 
with the letter they selected. 

Based on the data collected from this study, the stations in which students implemented 
reading strategies most frequently were independent reading in bags (strategies implemented 57 
times), classroom library (strategies implemented 32 times), browsing books (strategies 
implemented 24 times), big books (strategies implemented 20 times), and listening (strategies 
implemented 13 times). 

Independent reading in bags was observed a total of seven times among classrooms A, B, 
and D. In most cases, this was done for approximately 15 minutes either before or after actual 
literacy stations began, therefore it was not really considered a "station" in that sense. Due to 
time constraints and other related factors, this activity had to be observed in place of an actual 
station at times in order to obtain the needed data. During observations of this activity, three to 
four students (the same number of students that occupy the typical literacy station) were 
randomly selected to be observed. Each student had a bag with books inside that were aligned to 
his or her current reading level. The students independently read the books inside their bag 
during the allotted time. While engaging in this activity the students in the three classrooms were 
observed implementing use the picture 26 times, get your mouth ready nine times, look at the 
part you know two times, reread ten times, sound the word out four times, does it sound right 
two times, look for chunks two times, and read-skip-read two times. One example of use the 
picture that was observed was when a student was trying to figure out the word umbrella. The 
student's eyes went back and forth between the word and the picture of an umbrella, and she 
suddenly said, "umbrella!" Get your mouth ready was observed when one student used the 
beginning sound Ichl to help her figure out the word chickens. Look at the part you know was 



The Strategy is at the Station 30 

used when a student was trying to figure out the word racing. The student first recognized the 
word race which she used to help her determine the whole word, racing. When rereading, 
sometimes students would reread just one word and sometimes they would reread a whole phrase 
or sentence. In one instance, a student originally read a word as racecar and then reread it 
correctly as racing car. In another instance, a student originally read a sentence slowly and 
choppy like. He then went back and reread it more fluently. Sound the word out was used in one 
instance to help a student determine the word deck. The student slowly sounded out each part of 
the word, /df /e/ /k/, and then blended the sounds together. Does it sound right was used in one 
instance when a student originally read a word as say, but after realizing that it did not "sound 
right" or make sense within the context, the student correctly reread the word as saw. Look for 
chunks was observed in one instance when a student was trying to figure out the word playpen. 
He first recognized the wordplay and then figured out pen. The same was done by another 
student with the word doing. She first recognized do and then -ing. Read-skip-read was used in 
one instance when a student skipped the word stool and kept on reading. However, he never tried 
to revisit the word or go back and figure it out which is the preferred way to approach this 
strategy. 

At the classroom library station, observed a total of four times among classrooms A, C, 
and D, the students each read several books of their choice and then chose one book to which 
they wanted to respond. When constructing their responses, students typically had to write the 
title and author of the book, circle whether they thought the book was great, good, fair, or okay, 
and write whether someone should or should not read the book and why. While engaging in this 
station, the students in the three classrooms were observed implementing use the picture eight 
times, get your mouth ready six times, reread three times, sound the word out two times, look for 



The Strategy is at the Station 3 1 

chunks five times, read-skip-read two times, and does it make sense six times. Use the picture 
was observed in one instance as a student looked at the illustration to help her determine the 
word swings. Get your mouth ready was observed when a student used the beginning sound in 
the word mud to help him figure out the whole word. Rereading was observed in one instance 
when a student first read a phrase as "in the vine." She then reread it correctly as "o» the vine." 
Sound the word out was observed as students sounded out and blended the individual letter 
sounds in words. Look for chunks was observed as a student figured out the word unfoldedby 
recognizing the three chunks within it, un-fold-ed. Read-skip-read was implemented in one 

instance when a student read "We around the table." The student skipped the word 

gathered which had been giving him trouble. (Again, however, the student never revisited the 
word to try to figure it out after reading on.) Does it make sense was implemented when one 
student read "to hurt for food." After realizing that that did not make sense, the student quickly 
reread it as "to hunt for food." In another instance, a student first read "the witch throat about 
..." After realizing that that did not make sense, she went back and correctly reread it as "the 
witch thought about ..." (It should be noted that this particular strategy could also, at times, be 
interpreted as rereading. However, it was considered "does it make sense" over "rereading" 
when the rereading significantly changed the meaning of the text.) Although strategies were used 
prevalently at this station, many times students simply switched to another book if they came 
across a challenge, instead of using strategies to help them overcome the challenges they faced. 

The browsing books station, observed two times in classroom A (no other classroom 
implemented this station besides the one in which it was observed), contained strictly non-fiction 
books which typically offer a greater challenge and are more difficult to read. The teacher in this 
classroom expected her students to simply "browse" through the books, looking at the pictures 



The Strategy is at the Station 32 

and reading as much as they could. There was not a book response required at this station during 
the beginning phase of observations, but toward the end, the teacher did require a book response. 
While engaging in this station, the students were observed implementing use the picture seven 
times, get your mouth ready five times, reread four times, and sound the word out eight times. 
Most of the strategies that were observed at this station were seen implemented by two particular 
students. One very persistent student reread the sentence that contained a difficult word twice 
and kept looking at the picture for clues. He also kept trying to sound the word out. His efforts 
finally paid off, and he figured out the word. The other student was also very persistent in using 
his strategies, although he never did figure out the word that was giving him trouble, mapping. 
The student used the picture, tried to sound the word out, and reread, but after trying very hard, 
he finally closed the book and moved on to another. One strategy that these two students did not 
use, get your mouth ready, was observed in a separate instance with another student. The student 
implemented the strategy by focusing on the beginning sound in the word learns. The student 
repeatedly said "//////' and used that beginning sound to help her determine the whole word. 

At the big books station, observed a total of three times between classrooms B and D, the 
students each read several big books of their choice during the allotted time. There was no sort of 
book response required with this station. While engaging in this station, students were observed 
implementing use the picture ten times, get your mouth ready one time, look at the part you 
know four times, reread one time, look for chunks two times, does it make sense one time, and 
try that again one time. Get your mouth ready was used to help a student determine the word 
dreamed. The student repeatedly said "/drf/drf and then called out "dreamed!" She used the 
beginning sound to help her determine the whole word. Look at the part you know was observed 
in one instance as a student was trying to determine the word splash. The student said to herself, 



The Strategy is at the Station 33 

"I know pi is /p//and I know sh is A/7/." She then used those two parts that she already knew to 
help her determine the entire word. Rereading was observed when a student originally read, "My 
dog . . ." He then paused for a bit and reread, "My dog's the best." Most of the strategies 
observed at the big books station, however, could be summed up in the actions of two students in 
classroom D. Various reading strategies were displayed on the classroom wall above the big 
books station. Students frequently looked up and referred to these strategies whenever they 
encountered a challenge in their reading. (It should be noted that the students seemed very aware 
of the fact that they were being observed and appeared to want to "impress." Nevertheless, they 
were actively using reading strategies which is the most important.) Look for chunks was 
observed as the two students were trying to figure out the word fuller. One of the students said, 
"Let's look at the part we know, so cover up the -er." They did so and read the word full. They 
then added the -er to get fuller. Try that again was used after the students thought they had 
figured out the word fuller. To be sure, one of them said, "Now, let's try that again." They 
proceeded to reread the sentence in its entirety. Does it make sense was used when the students 
originally read a word as "keept" (a nonsense word). One of them said, "Well, let's see if it 
makes sense." When they read it in the sentence, they realized it did not make sense and then 
determined that the word was "kept." The students also said a couple of times throughout their 
reading, "Let's try to use our picture clues" whenever they encountered an unfamiliar word. The 
students even ran their fingers over and across the pictures appearing to examine them for clues. 
At the listening station, observed a total of five times among classrooms A, B, C, and D, 
the students each put on headphones and listened to a story that was read to them on tape. The 
students followed along in their books as they listened. The stories used at this station were 
usually those from the students' reading texts. In each classroom, the students typically had to 



The Strategy is at the Station 34 

write some sort of response to the story that they listened to whether it was retelling the story, 
sequencing the main events, or filling out information about various story elements. While 
engaging in this station, the students were observed implementing get your mouth ready one 
time, story elements three times, and retelling nine times. The one instance that get your mouth 
ready was used occurred while a student was constructing his written response. The student was 
trying to determine the spelling of a word by sounding out the initial sounds he heard. "Story 
elements ,, was observed as the students constructed written responses to stories they had listened 
to on tape. The response sheet required them to list/write about the setting, characters, problem, 
and solution of the story. Therefore, the station was directly related to the target strategy, story 
elements. Retelling was also observed as students constructed written responses to the stories 
they listened to on tape. The response sheet directly asked, "What was this story about?" Again, 
the station was directly related to the target strategy, retelling. It should be noted, however, that 
the students used retelling in a more basic way. They did not necessarily touch on each thing that 
happened in the beginning, middle, and end. For example, one student's response to The 
Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons was, "The book was about pumpkins; funny pumpkins, scary 
pumpkins, and all kinds of pumpkins." 

The remaining three stations that were observed, phonics letter tiles, phonics beginning 
blends, and phonics word families, were each directly related to a particular reading strategy, but 
an exact number of times that each strategy was implemented was not recorded due to the fact 
that the strategy was an integral part of the station and was used constantly. At the phonics letter 
tiles station, observed one time in classroom B, the setup consisted of several sheets of 
construction paper that each had four small pictures glued onto the left hand side. On the right 



The Strategy is at the Station 35 

side, beside each picture, the students used letter tiles to spell whichever word was pictured on 
the left. The strategy sound the word out was directly related to this station. 

At the phonics beginning blends station, observed one time in classroom C, six beginning 
consonant blends were displayed on a chart, some of which included pl-,fl-, and hi-. Each 
consonant blend was printed on a small card along with a picture of an object that began with the 
blend and the corresponding word printed below the picture. The students had to find three more 
small cards (out of large pile) that began with each of the six consonant blends. Each card had a 
picture of an object with the corresponding word printed below the picture. However, the 
beginning blend had been removed from each word and replaced with blanks. For example, one 

card had a picture of a flower on it with " ower" printed below. On the back of each card, was 

the actual consonant blend (in this case, fl-) and the original picture that represented that blend 
(in this case, flashlight). After finding three words/pictures that started with each of the six 
consonant blends, the students had to write and draw on handwriting paper, the beginning blend 
as well as each word and picture that began with that blend. The teacher then came around and 
had each student read aloud all the words he or she wrote. The strategy look for chunks was 
directly related to this station. 

At the phonics word families station, observed one time in classroom C, the students had 
to find various cards that corresponded to each word family that was displayed on a small chart. 
After sorting the cards, the students had to draw a picture and write out each word in its entirety 
on handwriting paper. Each student then had to read it all back to the classroom teacher. The 
strategy look for chunks was also directly related to this station. 

During this study, one of the teachers from a participating classroom explained that she 
has to prompt her students a lot to use their strategies, that they do not really use them on their 



The Strategy is at the Station 36 

own. This teacher said that once the students actually use their strategies, though, they are 
successful. She explained that she simply has difficulty getting them to implement the strategies 
on their own. She said that she believed the strategies that were most often used were use the 
picture and sound the word out. (Based on the data collected, she was correct about use the 
picture, the strategy used more frequently than any other.) However, she said she is trying to 
move the students higher than "use the picture" which she described as a "kindergarten strategy." 

With the current emphasis on students 1 academic achievement, it is important to be able 
to show that classroom practices are effective in promoting achievement. For this reason, the 
data collected from this study were analyzed in regard to how often the students in each 
classroom implemented reading strategies while engaging in independent literacy stations. Then, 
the data were compared to the results produced by the Developmental Reading Assessment 
(DRA). Students in classroom A implemented reading strategies the greatest number of times, a 
total of 57 times. They implemented use the picture 18 times, get your mouth ready nine times, 
reread 14 times, sound the word out 14 times, and does it sound right two times. Students in 
classroom D implemented reading strategies a total of 43 times. They implemented use the 
picture 20 times, get your mouth ready seven times, look for chunks four times, story elements 
three times, read-skip-read four times, does it look right two times, does it make sense two times, 
and try that again one time. Students in classroom B implemented reading strategies a total of 39 
times. They implemented use the picture ten times, get your mouth ready 13 times, look at the 
part you know eight times, reread two times, does it sound right three times, and retelling three 
times. Students in classroom C implemented reading strategies the least number of times, a total 
of 33 times. They implemented use the picture three times, get your mouth ready 1 1 times, 



The Strategy is at the Station 37 

reread three times, look for chunks five times, retelling six times, and does it make sense five 
times. 

A paired-samples t-test was conducted using the data collected from student DRA scores 
obtained in October, at the end of the first nine weeks, and those obtained in December, at the 
end of the second nine weeks (See Table 1 ). 

In classroom A, 1 7 students were compared based on their DRA levels, 1 5 students were 
compared based on their comprehension scores, and 1 7 students were compared based on their 
accuracy rates. The reason for the discrepancy in the number of students is due to the fact that 
the initial reading level of two students was too low to obtain a comprehension score. According 
to the October DRA results, the mean DRA level in classroom A was 5.41. In December, the 
mean DRA level was 8.59. Results of the paired-samples t-test show a statistically significant 
difference in these reading level scores, t (16) = 7.374, p = .000. The mean comprehension score 
for October was 1 7. 1 3. The mean comprehension score for December was 17.27. Although this 
does show an increase in the comprehension score, it is not statistically significant, 
t (14) = .333, p = .744. Finally, the mean accuracy rate for October was 98.06, while the mean 
accuracy rate for December was 97.06. In this case, the mean accuracy rate actually decreased, 
although not at a statistically significant level, t (16) = 1.587, p = .132. 

In classroom B, 17 students were compared based on their DRA levels, 15 students were 
compared based on their comprehension scores, and 1 7 students were compared based on their 
accuracy rates. The reason for the discrepancy in the number of students is, again, due to the fact 
that the initial reading level of two students was too low to obtain a comprehension score. 
According to the October DRA results, the mean DRA level in classroom B was 6.82. In 
December, the mean DRA level was 9.35. The results of the paired-samples t-test indicate a 



The Strategy is at the Station 38 

statistically significant difference in reading level scores, t (16) = 8.847, p = .000. The mean 
comprehension score for October was 17.60. The mean comprehension score for December was 
18.13. This is a statistically significant difference in comprehension scores, 

Table 1 

DRA Scores for October and December 





October 2007 


December 2007 


Class A - DRA Level 


5.41 


8.59* 


Comprehension 


17.13 


17.27 


Accuracy Rate 


98.06 


97.06 


Class B - DRA Level 


6.82 


9.35* 


Comprehension 


17.60 


18.13** 


Accuracy Rate 


97.65 


97.82 


Class C - DRA Level 


4.74 


7.95* 


Comprehension 


19.27 


19.33 


Accuracy Rate 


97.28 


97.83 


Class D - DRA Level 


5.63 


8.58* 


Comprehension 


18.78 


18.11 


Accuracy Rate 


97.95 


98.26 



* Statistically significant at the .001 level 
** Statistically significant at the .05 level 



The Strategy is at the Station 39 

t ( 14) = 2.779, p = .015. Finally, the mean accuracy rate for October was 97.65, while the mean 
accuracy rate for December was 97.82. The mean accuracy rate did increase, but not at a 
statistically significant level, t (16) = .447, p = .661. 

In classroom C, 19 students were compared based on their DRA levels, 15 students were 
compared based on their comprehension scores, and 1 8 students were compared based on their 
accuracy rates. The reason for the discrepancy in the number of students is due to the fact that 
the initial reading level of four students was too low to obtain a comprehension score, and the 
initial reading level of one student was too low to obtain an accuracy rate. According to the 
October DRA results, the mean DRA level in classroom C was 4.74. In December, the mean 
DRA level was 7.95. This difference in reading level scores is a statistically significant 
difference, t ( 18) = 7.471, p = .000. The mean comprehension score for October was 19.27. The 
mean comprehension score for December was 19.33. The mean comprehension score did 
increase, but not at a statistically significant level, t ( 14) = . 138, p = .892. Finally, the mean 
accuracy rate for October was 97.28, while the mean accuracy rate for December was 97.83. The 
mean accuracy rate also increased, but not at a statistically significant level, 
t (17) = .661, p = .518. 

In classroom D, 19 students were compared based on their DRA levels, 18 students were 
compared based on their comprehension scores, and 19 students were compared based on their 
accuracy rates. The reason for the discrepancy in the number of students is due to the fact that 
the initial reading level of one student was too low to obtain a comprehension score. According 
to the October DRA results, the mean DRA level in classroom D was 5.63. In December, the 
mean DRA level was 8.58. There was a statistically significant increase in the mean DRA level, 
t ( 18) = 6.058, p = .000. The mean comprehension score for October was 18.78. The mean 



The Strategy is at the Station 40 

comprehension score for December was 18.1 1. In this case, the mean comprehension score 
actually decreased, although not at a statistically significant level, t (17) = .507, p = .619. Finally, 
the mean accuracy rate for October was 97.95, while the mean accuracy rate for December was 
98.26. The mean accuracy rate did increase, but not at a statistically significant level, 
t (18) = .946, p = .357. 

Based on the results of the paired-samples t-test, it is revealed that only the DRA level 
increased significantly in each classroom. Classroom C, in fact, had the greatest increase in the 
mean DRA level, followed by classrooms A, D, and B. The comprehension score also increased 
significantly in classroom B only. Accuracy rates did not show a statistically significant increase 
in any of the classrooms; however, this is not expected due to the way in which the test is 
administered. The teacher stops the test before the student's accuracy level declines too much. 

Conclusion 

When comparing DRA results to the observational data obtained from the eight-week 
study, one can conclude that the class that had the most growth according to the results of the 
paired-samples t-test of DRA scores was classroom B, the only class that had a statistically 
significant increase in both student DRA levels and comprehension scores. However, it should 
be noted that, of the four classrooms, classroom B also had the lowest increase in the mean DRA 
level, although it was still statistically significant. Likewise, it also must be taken into 
consideration that most of the students in classroom B (1 1 out of 18) were at or above the DRA 
level they should be on at the end of the 2 nd nine weeks in first grade. Therefore, the fact that 
most of the students in classroom B were at or above the desired DRA level and still had a 
statistically significant gain in comprehension is important. 



The Strategy is at the Station 41 

When reviewing the observational data collected from the eight-week study, one can see 
some ways in which classroom B differs from the other three classes observed. First, classroom 
B had more literacy stations in place than any other classroom, a total of seven stations. Four of 
the 13 stations were only observed in classroom B. These were author study, partner reading, 
phonics puzzles, and phonics letter tiles. As far as reading strategies are concerned, classroom B 
was the only class in which "look at the part you know" was ever observed. The strategies "get 
your mouth ready" and "does it sound right" were also observed more times in classroom B than 
in any other classroom. See Appendix Table Al . 

However, in reviewing data collected from this study, it is also evident that the students 
in classroom B implemented reading strategies less than those students in classrooms A and D 
overall. This, perhaps, may have to do with the stations that were observed in each classroom. 
Independent reading in bags was observed three times in classroom A and three times in 
classroom D. However, it was observed only once in classroom B. This is of particular 
importance because independent reading in bags is the station in which reading strategies were 
implemented the most by far (n = 57). Had independent reading in bags been observed three 
times in classroom B as it was in classrooms A and D, the number of times students in classroom 
B implemented reading strategies would likely be greater. Another reason that the number of 
times students implemented strategies in classroom B appears to be less than in classrooms A 
and D is because at the phonics letter tiles station, an exact number of times that strategies were 
implemented could not be recorded because the strategy of sound the word out was inherent in 
the station itself. This made it too difficult to record an exact number of times the strategy was 
being used. Therefore, the total number of times that the students in classroom B implemented 
reading strategies (n = 39) does not include the times in which the strategy "sound the word out" 



The Strategy is at the Station 42 

was used at the phonics letter tiles station. This station was never observed in classrooms A and 
D. 

Another important aspect to consider in this study is the class that implemented the 
greatest number of reading strategies throughout the eight-week period, classroom A, which 
implemented reading strategies a total of 57 times. While the students in this classroom 
implemented reading strategies most often, they were not the class that showed the most growth 
according to DRA scores. They did show a statistically significant increase in student DRA 
levels (as did every other classroom), but they actually showed a slight decrease in student 
accuracy rate, although not at a statistically significant level. However, it is important to consider 
that as a student's DRA level increases, it is expected that there will be somewhat of a decrease 
in accuracy rate for at least some time due to the fact that the material is at a more advanced 
level. 

When looking at the results obtained from the DRA, it is evident that classroom C had 
the greatest increase in the mean DRA level (M = 3.21) followed by classrooms A, D, and B 
(M - 3.18, 2.95, and 2.53, respectively). Again, the strategies implemented in classroom C were 
get your mouth ready, retelling, look for chunks, does it make sense, use the picture, and reread. 
It should certainly be noted that in classroom C, the strategy "look for chunks" was also used 
constantly in both the phonics beginning blends and phonics word families stations. Since the 
strategy was essentially inherent in the station, it was difficult to record an exact number of times 
the strategy was used. Therefore, while it appears that the students in classroom C implemented 
strategies the least frequently (n = 33), one must take into consideration the fact that look for 
chunks was not tallied and included in this total number. Had it been, the total number of times 
in which strategies were implemented certainly would have increased. Classroom C was also the 



The Strategy is at the Station 43 

only classroom to implement the phonics beginning blends and phonics word families stations. 
The students in classroom C also implemented the strategies look for chunks, retelling, and does 
it make sense more frequently that the students in any other classroom. 

Some important similarities are evident between classroom C, which had the greatest 
statistically significant increase in DRA level, and classroom B, which had the only statistically 
significant increase in comprehension. One similarity is that in both classrooms, six different 
reading strategies were observed. Of those six strategies, get your mouth ready, use the picture, 
retelling, and reread were each implemented by students in both classrooms. Another similarity 
is that get your mouth ready was the most frequently used strategy in both classrooms (n = 11 for 
classroom C, and n =13 for classroom B). Also, reread was the least frequently used strategy in 
both classrooms (n = 3 for classroom C, and n = 2 for classroom B). A final similarity is that in 
both classes, a mix of word related strategies and comprehension strategies were implemented. 
In classroom C, four word related strategies were implemented and three comprehension 
strategies were implemented. (Use the picture was counted twice as both a word related and 
comprehension strategy.) The same went for classroom B. Four word related strategies were 
implemented and three comprehension strategies were implemented. (Again, use the picture was 
counted in each category.) Therefore, perhaps the key to increased literacy achievement is a 
balanced mixture of word related and comprehension strategies. 

Discussion 

As previously stated, the purpose of this study was to determine whether student literacy 
achievement is more positively affected when the strategies taught or practiced in guided reading 
are connected to and used in independent literacy stations. Initially, it was expected that the 
classroom in which the most strategies were implemented would be the classroom that had the 



The Strategy is at the Station 44 

greatest gain. However, this was not the case. It is important to understand, though, that the data 
collected from this study is based solely on what was observed. That does not necessarily mean 
that since a strategy was not observed in a classroom, it was never used at all. Some strategies 
and stations may have been implemented in various classrooms when the researcher was not 
present to observe. Other limiting factors include the fact that the researcher observed students in 
classrooms A, B, and D engaging in independent reading in bags, which is technically not a 
station, per se. Also, the fact that the researcher was unable to record an exact number of times in 
which "sound the word out" was used in the phonics letter tiles station and "look for chunks" 
was used in the phonics beginning blends and phonics word families stations could have altered 
the data and results, somewhat. 

For further study, first grade classrooms could be identified at a different school that does 
not focus on strategy use in literacy stations and then achievement scores could be compared to 
first grade classrooms that do focus on strategy use. Another topic that could be investigated for 
further study is whether too much emphasis on strategy use is less effective. Results from this 
study show that the students in classroom D implemented eight different strategies (more than 
any other class) but that they had the third greatest increase in mean DRA level (following 
classrooms C and A) and that they were the only class to have a slight decrease in the mean 
comprehension score, although it was not at a statistically significant level. Finally, the nine 
literacy stations suggested by Ford and Opitz (2002) that were previously mentioned (listening, 
Readers Theatre, reading/writing the room, pocket chart, poems/story packs, big books, 
responding to literature through art, writing, and reading) could be identified in classrooms and 
observed for further study in a manner similar to the way in which stations were observed in this 



The Strategy is at the Station 45 

study. Also, it may be beneficial to examine the developmental appropriateness and authenticity 
of literacy stations and how that factor may contribute to literacy achievement. 



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Guastello, E.F., & Lenz, C. (2005). Student accountability: Guided reading kidstations. The 

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Iaquinta, A. (2006). Guided reading: A research-based response to the challenges of early 

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http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/execsumm.pdf